Visiting the Baldi Hot Springs in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an adventurous place. It was the final stop on a multi-country backpacking tour that swooped from Cartagena through the San Blas Islands to Panama City, and ending at La Fortuna, a small touristy town north of San José that’s famous for its volcano. In fact, the town used to be named for the volcano—Arenal—but after a 1968 eruption skirted the town borders, they renamed it La Fortuna, or the Fortune.

Tourist hawkers along La Fortuna’s main street will try pushing a huge number of activities on you—you can four-wheel up volcanic slopes, zipline through the tree canopy, rappel down waterfalls, get soaked on a white water raft, spy on vipers, toucans, and monkeys on a hike, or take a horseback ride through the rainforest. There’s plenty to do to pump up your energy and exhaust your muscles—so why not treat yourself to some rest and relaxation before you get back on your plane?

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Visiting the Baldi Hot Springs in Costa Rica

La Fortuna is full of natural hot springs, thanks to the Arenal Volcano’s geothermal stirrings. You’ll find a whole crop of hotels offering day passes to their waterfalls, rivers, and pools. The most popular is Tabacon, which is landscaped around the river to create a lush and atmospheric ambiance. The downsides are the price ($94 including lunch or dinner) and the crowds.

I chose instead to visit the Baldi Hot Springs. It was a cooler, misty, gray day (the guy at the hostel’s front desk told me quite seriously that, “It’s raining because it’s a rainforest”), but that wound up being the perfect set-up for a trip to the hot springs. I had the place more or less to myself for the bulk of the time, and the cool drizzle felt great against my heated skin.

Offering one of the most budget-friendly day pass options ($57 including lunch or dinner), the Baldi hot springs are well-tended, with plenty of space. Adventurous adults and those traveling with kids will love the series of waterslides and the dedicated play areas. Those looking for a calmer time can still find it, whether on a half-submerged lounger by the swim-up bar, or under a waterfall tucked into the jungle.

After your day in the springs, stop by the hotel restaurant for an elegant dinner. You’re allowed to leave and return, as long as you have your ticket, in case you want to get freshened up. It’s a great way to end a day of indulgence—and an even better way to end a three-week backpacking trip!